Chiropractic Subluxations and Adjustments

Chiropractors believe that good health is determined by a healthy nervous system, particularly a healthy spinal column. Occasionally, vertebrae become misaligned and place pressure on the nerves exiting the spinal cord. The misalignment of a vertebra is called a chiropractic subluxation.

When subluxations occur, chiropractors use specific techniques to return the vertebrae into their proper positions or mobilize them so they can move freely. These techniques are called spinal manipulations or adjustments. During an adjustment, the vertebra is freed from the misaligned position and returned to the proper position in the spinal column. Once performed, the adjustment allows the body to heal and maintain homeostasis.

Chiropractic adjustmentChiropractors are trained in a variety of adjustment techniques. Some are done by hand; some require the use of specialized instruments. Since each patient is different, your chiropractor will choose the best technique for your condition. However, feel free to ask the chiropractor which technique he or she will be doing and how it will be done.

Some common adjustment techniques used by chiropractors include the following:

  • Toggle Drop - this is when the chiropractor, using crossed hands, presses down firmly on a particular area of the spine. Then, with a quick and precise thrust, the chiropractor adjusts the spine. This is done to improve mobility in the vertebral joints.
  • Motion Palpation - this hand-on procedure is done to determine if your vertebrae are moving freely in their normal planes of motion.
  • Lumbar Roll -the chiropractor positions the patient on his or her side, then applies a quick and precise thrust to the misaligned vertebra, returning it to its proper position.
  • Release Work - the chiropractor applies gentle pressure using his or her fingertips to separate the vertebrae.
  • Table adjustments - The patient lies on a special table with a "drop piece". The chiropractor applies a quick thrust at the same time the table drops. The dropping of the table allows for a lighter adjustment without the twisting positions that can accompany the manual adjustment.
  • Instrument adjustments - often the gentlest methods of adjusting the spine. The patient lies on the table face down while the chiropractor uses a string-loaded activator instrument to perform the adjustment. This technique is often used to perform adjustments on animals as well.
  • Manipulation done under anesthesia (or twilight sedation) - this is performed by a chiropractor certified in this technique in a hospital outpatient setting when you are unresponsive to traditional adjustments

Keep in mind that you may need to return to the chiropractor's office for additional adjustments before you experience complete relief from your symptoms.

Updated on: 03/25/16
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